USCIS starts to accept H1B Visa registrations for FY 2022 season starting from today, March 9th, 2021. They have announced the H1B 2022 Registration Dates earlier in Feb 2021. As we have done in the past, in this article, we will give predictions on how many H1B registrations we can expect for this upcoming H1B Visa 2022 season. We will review various factors such as US Economy, pandemic impact, immigration policies and other aspects that can influence the total filings. We will also cover the results dates, and overall timeline for FY 2022 season.
Update : Many Users in community have shared that they have received H1B 2022 Selection notices starting from March 27th, 2021. Read more at H1B 2022 Lottery Results out – Sample Selection Notice . On March 30th, 2021 USCIS released press note confirming the same. Read USCIS News – H1B 2022 Initial Registrations Selection Completed. But, that press note does not have the total H1B registrations count or submissions.
We believe that the below factors mainly influence the H1B filings for the upcoming FY 2022 season.
- Historical Trend of H1B filings
- Pandemic effect on last year filings, H1B Travel Ban
- US Economy and Unemployment situation
- New Administration’s Immigration outlook
- F1 Students – Travel Restrictions, OPT, STEM OPT
- H4 Holders Situation – OMB withdraws H4 EAD Removal rule
- Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, $10 Registration Fee
- Pandemic Changing the way we work – onsite vs virtual.
Let’s look at each of the above factors in detail.
Historical Trend of H1B filings – Lottery or Not ?
We have been tracking H1B data for a decade now. Based on the H1B visa cap filings history since FY 2004, we can clearly say that there will be H1B Lottery for sure. The simple reason is that, always the demand for H1B Visa is far higher than the H1B Visa Cap Quota of 85,000 that is available for both regular and US masters quota. Also, the below graphs we put up with historical data shows the same.
Last year for H1B Visa 2021, we had over 275,000 registrations filed, the previous year it was 201,011…With the H1B registration Process and Online system, filing H1B is far more easier than ever. So, one thing is clear that we will have lottery for sure. In below graphs, we have plotted the H1B historical data and cap reach dates in a nice chart that you can see the bigger picture of H1B cap & filings by year. Now, the big question is how many filings we can expect. We will come to the number after we review other factors.
US Economy and Unemployment situation in 2021
The world economy has been hit very hard with the yearlong pandemic situation. US economy is no different. If you look at the US economy GDP growth and the Unemployment rate as shown in below screenshot, they look pretty bad. While the GDP growth rate bounced back on paper and charts, it is not enough to have the economy back like in pre-pandemic levels.
The current unemployment rate is at 6.2%, compared to 3.5% last year during Feb 2020. All it tells us is that there are more people and less jobs than last year. This directly impacts the number of H1B Visa related jobs as well. Though unemployment rate in Information Technology area is slightly lower, still it has an impact. As a result of this, we can expect lower number of H1B registrations filed by US employers this year.
Pandemic effect on last year filings, H1B Travel Ban
Though we had 275,000 registrations filed by employers last year, when it came to actual H1B Petition filings, they were far lower than previous years. Many employers, who gave job offers in March 2020, could not honor them in 3 months due to the effect of Coronavirus pandemic on jobs prospects. That was the reason for Second round H1B Lottery done by USCIS to invite more employers to file H1B petitions.
Also, the H1B Travel Ban by Trump Administration had a huge impact on first time H1B holders with approved petitions not able to get Visa stamping or enter US. Even now, getting a slot to apply for US Visa Stamping is difficult as consulates are not fully open yet. All of these created a large number of first time H1B visa holders stuck outside of US. Due to this, companies would be keen to first honor and get the applicants who got H1B approvals in H1B FY 2021 season. As a result, we can expect that many companies may file a smaller number of H1B registrations for new applicants this year in FY 2022 season.
New Administration’s Immigration Outlook
During Trump Administration era, the Executive Order Buy American, Hire American signed by Trump had a huge impact on many aspects of H1B program. There were many policies in place targeted towards H1B program that increased the number of RFEs and Denials. After Biden Administration took office, they revoked the Buy American, Hire American Executive order. Due to this, we can expect to see many changes done to the way USCIS would handle H1B program and the H1B petition adjudication. Overall, Biden administration is far more friendly to Immigrants in general, as a result, we can expect positive outlook for H1B program. This is a favorable and we can expect more employers willing to file H1B petitions this upcoming FY 2022 season.
F1 Students – Travel Restrictions, OPT, STEM OPT
As per last year’s USCIS Press release, about 46% of the H1B filings in FY 2021 season were in US Advanced degree category. This clearly tells us that F1 Students with US Masters or higher degree play a major role in driving the H1B registrations count. If you look at the data from OpenDoors Report as shown in below screenshot, you can see that overall US international Students reduced by 1.8% for academic year 2019-2020.
While the drop in total international students and new F1 students does not directly impact the H1B visa filings for this year, they do indicate the overall F1 students’ situation. The key thing to watch for is OPT and STEM OPT students count and split by fields of study.
If you see the below charts on trends & fields of study, the F1 Students on OPT and STEM OPT count was pretty much flat with 223,539. In previous year, it was up by 9.6% adding over 20,000 new F1 OPT holders. The no increase in F1 OPT numbers tells us that fewer students graduated. It could be that many postponed their graduations as it is not the best time to graduate. Also, one thing to note is about 40% of the students are in STEM Category.
Looking at the numbers in charts below, we can assume about 220,000 are on OPT status now, even if we exclude the F1 students graduating in Spring 2021. Also, we may have about 40% of F1 OPT students from previous two years, whose STEM OPT would be expiring and this could be their last chance to apply for H1B.
If we just go with the assumption that 40% would file H1B to remain in US, this would add up to 88,000 towards the H1B cap filings for FY 2022. Also, we need to consider new graduates, under graduates on general OPT. So, overall, the H1B filings number do not seem to do down and they will be same like last few years.
You can watch the below YouTube Video that talks about the aspects in this article
H4 Holders Situation – OMB withdraws H4 EAD Removal rule
One of the positive things for H4 visa holders, in terms of H4 EAD News, since Biden Administration has taken office is that they have withdrawn their plans to remove H4 EAD. In the previous years, there was more uncertainty that DHS would remove the rule. Now with administration not planning to revoke H4 EAD, this is a positive sign. Also, they have added Work Authorization for H4 holders in US Citizenship Act 2021 Bill in Congress.
While the Court is yet to decide on the H4 EAD Lawsuit, the current new administration is supportive of H4 EAD. What it means for H4 Holders is that there is more stability, and many may or may not necessarily seek the Change of Status to H1B and this may reduce the number of H1B filings for this year from H4 visa holders.
Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, $10 Registration Fee
Many of the previous applicants with aspirations to work in US both within US and outside of US would not give up their hope in first attempt. We have seen many even try 5 to 6 times and then got lucky. Just going by the human tendency to not give up in first attempt, we can expect quite a few past applicants try their luck this upcoming fiscal year. This will drive up the total number of H1B filings for this year.
On the other hand, in the past, there was a lot of hassle to file H1B petition and there was a lot of cost involved for employers upfront. Since, H1B registration Online System was introduced last year, it is not an expensive affair and costs only $10 cost upfront. Also, the process is very much easy without needing lot of paperwork. This easy process will drive up the H1B registrations filings.
Pandemic Changing the way we work – onsite vs virtual
The way we all work has changed in the last one year since the lockdown. Most of the IT Professionals have been working remotely from their homes or even from their home country due to travel restrictions and lock downs. In the past, many wanted a person to be on-site and meet in person to do projects. Now, that need is not there anymore.
Due to the change in behavior of customers and the market needs, companies may fundamentally question their hiring strategy and bringing people from outside of US to America to work on H1B. This can have a big impact on the number of H1B filings that are going to be filed under regular quota cap to bring them to US on H1B for the first time. This change in work mode would reduce the number of H1B filings that employers may file for new applicants living abroad.
Now that we have looked at the overall factors, let’s get to the summary and numbers.
H1B Visa 2022 Lottery Prediction – How many registrations?
If we summarize the above factors, below is what we get
- Historical Trend of H1B filings – Will have H1B Lottery
- Pandemic effect on last year filings, H1B Travel Ban – Less H1B filings
- US Economy and Unemployment situation – Less H1B filings
- New Administration’s Immigration outlook – More H1B filings
- F1 Students – Travel Restrictions, OPT, STEM OPT – More H1B filings
- H4 Holders Situation – OMB withdraws H4 EAD Removal rule – Less H1B filings
- Past applicants not picked in H1B Lottery, $10 Registration Fee – More H1B filings
- Pandemic Changing the way we work – onsite vs virtual – Less H1B filings
Though we are in pandemic situation, many of the factors we reviewed above strongly suggest that the demand for H1B visa has not reduced. So, it is pretty much obvious that we would have lottery for the upcoming FY 2022 season. Now, the big question is how many registrations we can expect.
This year is very hard to predict as many things have changed and we are in unprecedented times with pandemic…Nevertheless, based on our analysis, we believe that the despite the high demand for H1B visas, there will be drop in total H1B registrations submitted this year, when compared with last year. We predict that we may see H1B Registrations count anywhere between 150,000 to 170,000 for fiscal year 2022.
H1B Visa 2022 Tracker – To help the community, we have partnered with VisaGrader to build an Anonymous H1B Visa Tracker for FY 2022. Use H1B Visa 2022 Tracker to add your case for community benefit and your benefit.
H1B Registration Lottery Results and Timeline
Below are the timelines for the H1B Registration and Lottery results.
- H1B Registration Start Date : March 9th, 2021. 12 Noon EST
- H1B Registration End Date : March 25th, 2021. Noon EST
- H1B Lottery Results (First Round ) : Any time after March 25th, but before March 31st, 2021.
- H1B Petition Filing Start Dates (First Round) : April 1st, 2021.
- H1B Petition Filings End Dates (First Round ) : June 30th, 2021.
- H1B Lottery (Second Round) : In general, USCIS selects 13 to 15% more registrations than the quota to factor in for denials, withdrawals, etc. We do not know at this point, if there will be second round. We may or may not have this. We will only know after June 30th, if there will be second round.
You can read 29 H1B Registration FAQs to understand various aspects of registration system, duplicate filings, etc.
What is your Prediction for H1B Visa 2022 Season ? Share your numbers, thoughts in comments below.